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After Lachlan and Sam had both managed a few hours of sleep and found some fresh clothes and a jug of water to wash the worst of the blood away, they’d decided to search the houses in the town for supplies.

It was only getting harder and harder to make sense of this place. The building Lachlan and Sam had been in before and the wide concrete expanse on top had felt surreal–overly simplistic, abstract approximations of familiar things.

This town felt too real, too detailed. Trinkets and clutter were scattered through the houses, as though real people had lived there. The last house they’d visited had been full of photographs of a smiling family, and the table had been set as though the residents had just vanished in the middle of a meal.

“I’m picking up on a bit of a Pompeiian vibe here,” said Lachlan.

“What?” said Sam.

“A once-picturesque Italian city, frozen forever in time and left to decay?”

“Italian?” said Sam. “What makes you think this place is Italian?”

Lachlan pointed at a street sign.

“Well, for one thing, we just turned from Via Marconi onto Via Roma,” said Lachlan. “For another, every single street sign and shop name is in Italian.”

“I haven’t exactly been paying attention to whether the streets have Italian-sounding names or not,” said Sam. “That hasn’t really been a priority given every single other thing about our situation.”

“Point taken,” said Lachlan.

They headed toward a house with a gray-white stucco exterior that stood out among the pastel rainbow of tall narrow houses squeezed together along the street. Sam’s shoes made a schtick, schtick, schtick sound as he walked, the dried blood on his soles sticking to the ground.

Hopefully, there would be a fresh pair of shoes in Sam’s size in the next house. That sound was getting disturbing to listen to.

“There are two possibilities for this town,” said Sam. “This first is that it originated in this plane of reality. After all, parallel universe have infinite possibilities, so it’s virtually guaranteed that the Italian language would exist in some of them.”

“That seems unlikely.”

“There’s also the second possibility,” said Sam, “that it was pulled into this place somehow, through a massive-scale version of the phenomenon we both experienced. But an entire town disappearing isn’t exactly subtle. It would have been all over the news.”

An Italian town disappearing? Wait a minute…

“Interesting,” said Lachlan. “I can’t help but think of Borgo San Severino.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“You Americans really aren’t aware of anything that happens outside your country, are you?” said Lachlan.

“Are you going to tell me what it is, or are you just going to keep being a jerk about it?”

“There was a town in Italy that disappeared a few years ago.”

“An entire town?” Sam raised an eyebrow. “How does an entire town disappear?”

“Supposedly there was an explosion. A research lab accident.”

“Okay,” said Sam. “The issue with your little theory is that this town has decidedly not exploded.”

“Hence why I said ‘supposedly’,” said Lachlan. “They say the town was obliterated so completely, it was as though it vanished into thin air.”

“Hm,” said Sam. “It’s actually a compelling theory in that case. I’d be interested to know what kind of research that lab was doing.”

“I know someone who lived near enough to the town to hear the accident when it happened. She said it didn’t sound like an explosion. It was more like a ripping noise. Sound familiar?”

“Hm,” said Sam again. “That makes it even more compelling.”

They reached the stone front stoop of the narrow gray house. An arch of white stucco framed the entryway, with a dark green door in the right half of the arch and a window in the left half, both curved to match the arch’s shape. A black awning, deprived of its purpose in a place without sun or rain to shelter them from, hung over the front porch.

Something about the house felt strange, but Lachlan couldn’t figure out what it was. He opened the door.

“After you, Samurai,” he said.

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6 thoughts on “6.3

    • Only the tip was bitten off just above the bone, so it was fairly easy for them to sew it back on and I didn’t need surgery or anything. (Sorry if that’s TMI!) I’m told it’ll probably reattach without issues, so I got way luckier than poor Sam in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

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